Who Killed Natalie Wood? Revisiting Hollywood’s Greatest Mystery

After Natalie Wood’s mysterious death in 1981 off the coast of California’s Catalina Island, speculation and rumors ran wild. But within hours of finding her body, Los Angeles County officials side-stepped any notion of foul play by blaming her death on an accident.

Natalie Wood

More than 42 years later, a new documentary reopens the investigation. The film focuses on captain Dennis Davern, who alleges that Wagner and Wood fought before she fell overboard. Keep reading the article below to learn more about Who Killed Natalie Wood.

In a world that commodifies women and often takes them for granted, Natalie Wood rose above the dregs. She was a child star turned teen idol, an Academy Award nominee and a star of such hits as West Side Story and Rebel Without A Cause. She was a wife and mother twice over, and she made a name for herself as a respected actress. But her life ended in tragedy on November 29, 1981, when she was found dead of apparent drowning off the coast of California’s Catalina Island while yachting with husband Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.

Wagner, the star of the television series Hart to Hart, was not initially considered a suspect in her death. He and Wood had married in 1957, divorced six years later and remarried in 1972. Wood left behind her daughter from her first marriage and a young daughter with Wagner. But he had his own problems. In a 2008 autobiography, he wrote that he blamed himself for her death.

But new evidence shows that he was at least a suspect in her death. He had been acting suspiciously towards Wood in the days leading up to her drowning, and he had been accused of badgering her and her costars while they were filming Brainstorm. He also got into a heated argument with Walken in a North Carolina hotel restaurant and hired spies to spy on them.

On the day of her death, Wood and Wagner had invited some friends to join them aboard their yacht Splendour. But most of them cancelled due to the predicted bad weather. That left only Wood, Walken and her skipper, Dennis Davern. It’s a story that would fit well with a script for NCIS or MONK.

For decades, Davern has maintained that the official account of what happened to Wood is a farce. He has spoken out on the subject numerous times, including on a 1992 Geraldo Rivera special and in a 2000 Vanity Fair article. He has also worked with author Marti Rulli on two books about the actress.

Christopher Walken

In life, Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood’s most alluring stars. In death, she remains its most mysterious. Her drowning on a yacht off the coast of Catalina Island is considered one of the most suspicious celebrity deaths in history. Despite a reopening of the case in 2011, investigators have been unable to determine what caused her to fall into the water. The cause of her death was listed as an accident on her official death certificate, but investigators have suspected foul play.

In the weeks leading up to her death, Natalie Wood and her Brainstorm co-star Robert Wagner invited several friends aboard their yacht for a weekend trip to Catalina Island. Most declined the invitation, but Walken accepted. He was in town for the film, but he was also an old friend of the couple.

According to reports at the time, Wood and Walken were having a great time together. They were partying and drinking until about 2am when they started arguing. The fight got so heated that it could be heard on other boats. However, hours passed before anyone on the boat called for help.

The next morning, the crew found the body of Wood floating in the ocean. She was clad in a flannel nightgown and red down jacket. Her body was so full of water that it weighed 40 pounds. Her lungs were filled with water, making it difficult for her to breathe.

Walken has long denied any involvement in Wood’s death. In 2022, he published a memoir, I Never Forget You, in which he wrote that he was “absolutely not” responsible for her death. He also claimed that he had no idea how she fell off the boat.

The book claims that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office manipulated an official report and has attempted to cover up evidence in Natalie Wood’s case. It also discusses attempts by Wagner, Walken and Davern to distance themselves from any blame with magazine interviews and books. It exposes eye-opening details regarding lead detective Duane Rasure’s actions in the investigation and suggests that there was a directive from Sheriff Pitchess to close the case as an accident.

Captain Dennis Davern

The person who is the focus of this latest investigation into Natalie Wood’s mysterious death is Dennis Davern, the captain of the yacht that she was on when she died. He claims that he has new information about the night she went into the water, and he is asking investigators to take a closer look at the case.

He has been speaking out for years, including on a 1992 Geraldo Rivera special and in a 1999 Vanity Fair article. He also worked with friend and author Marti Rulli to co-write a book on the incident called “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendor.” He is currently living part of the year in St. Augustine, Florida.

Davern was the boat captain who took Wood and her co-stars Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken out on a Thanksgiving dinner cruise in 1981. He claims that they were drinking heavily at the time, and that he heard them arguing. Later, she disappeared from the boat in a dinghy while wearing a nightgown. Her body was found in the water the next day. It was initially ruled an accident, but authorities have recently reopened the case after some inconsistencies were discovered.

According to Davern, there are many things that don’t add up. For example, he believes that Wagner dropped the dinghy to make it seem like it had been left ashore, but that R.J. had tipped it over instead. He also claims that he overheard Wagner tell Davern to keep quiet about the argument.

There have also been rumors of foul play in the case, but no evidence has been produced. However, the new information that Davern is offering could be a major factor in why investigators are re-examining the case.

He says that he has uncovered new information about what happened to Wood, including a fight between her and Wagner in a hotel room in North Carolina where they were shooting the movie Brainstorm. He also claims to have heard a conversation between the two stars about money and that he believes there is more to the story than what was originally reported.

Doctor Michael Franco

The 1981 drowning of Oscar-nominated actress Natalie Wood has long been one of Hollywood’s most controversial unsolved mysteries, but the case just got a whole new twist. The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department has officially named 87-year-old actor Robert Wagner a person of interest in the case. The news was first reported by Radar Online. In the book, Sam Perroni writes that he uncovered critical motive evidence in a probate file and in documents from North Carolina where Wood was filming her movie Brainstorm. Perroni says he found that Wagner and Wood got into a major fight in a hotel restaurant weeks before the boat trip.

Adding to that, Perroni claims that when investigators interviewed the three men on the yacht — captain Dennis Davern, actor Christopher Walken and Wagner himself — none of their stories rang true. He also points to bruises that were discovered on the body, some of which made it look like Wood was assaulted before she died. The sheriff’s office hasn’t commented on this new development, but the new evidence could lead to a whole new theory about what really happened to the star.

For years, it was widely believed that Wood jumped off the boat after an argument with her husband and simply drowned in the chilly water off of Catalina Island. But this new evidence changes the course of the investigation, and a Los Angeles sheriff’s department spokesman told The Record that authorities are hoping for tips that could lead to the “truth.”

A doctor named Michael Franco, who was a volunteer intern at the coroner’s office when Wood’s body was flown in from Catalina, is a possible new missing link. He told The Record that he is convinced that bruises that were observed on Wood’s body indicate that she was attacked before she died.

The sheriff’s department is also seeking information on the forensic pathologist who performed Wood’s autopsy, as well as an eyewitness that might have seen something. They are also looking into allegations that the man who took Wood’s purse on board the yacht was a suspect.